By Phil Terrigno (Photo credit: Ricky Flores/The Journal News)
Pearl River was putting Class A softball in a stranglehold during its streak of consecutive section titles from 2008-2011 before major change came to the softball landscape last season.
Instead of two of the top seeds reaching the final, it was No. 8 Beacon topping No. 7 Brewster after each team reeled off impressive upsets, highlighting the depth of softball’s most competitive class.
“I knew that as a seven seed, with the talent we had, we should have been easily a two or a three,” Brewster coach Lisa Delzio said. “In my head, I knew we were there. Again, because of our schedule in northern Westchester, we play a much more difficult schedule.”
After posting a 17-6 mark, Brewster finds itself as a top contender in this season’s tight Class A, which features several historically strong teams that have lost many familiar faces to graduation.
Just as Eastchester begins life without slugger Anna Crowley and Tappan Zee turns the page after enjoying contributions from Regina Argenzio, Brewster lost Marisa Delzio’s .416 batting average and eight homers.
“The big thing about this year is that we have a lot of players that can play a lot of positions,” senior catcher Nikole Larm said. “We definitely have to find a rotation that clicks.”
“Alycia is very talented and I would have to say her performance last year during sectionals showed that she has the potential to be one of the premier pitchers in the section,” Delzio said. “She definitely proved herself.”
Feeney posted a 1.99 ERA in 88 innings, including 70 strikeouts and 24 walks.
“I hope to do a lot better than last year because I think we could have made it further,” Feeney said. “I pitched mostly all of the sectional games and we all got a little tired. If we had more time between games, we would have made it further.”
Brewster’s three senior starters include Larm, center fielder Brittany Deieso and leadoff hitter Shannon Sommer.
“It was incredible to be seeded seventh and beat Hen Hud, Pelham and Ursuline,” Larm said. “We came together as a team and none of those were easy. It was incredible to have that kind of run. We are all looking to get further this season.“
Carmel: After posting a 16-5 record and earning a berth in the section semifinals, the Rams are led by all-state first baseman and Columbia-bound senior Alyssa Rodia. Sam Duffy, Samantha Fernandez and the battery of pitcher Jasmine Ennabe and catcher Brittany Allocca are solid.
Clarkstown South: The reigning League IV-A champion Vikings lost four seniors but return the left side of their infield in third baseman Briana Keaveney and shortstop Carly Feuer.
Suffern: Led by Sam Iodice, Kate Wood, Hayley Napier and Nicki Checkla, the Mounties look to be the League IV-A champions.
Keep an eye on: New Rochelle, North Rockland
Brewster: The Bears, a Class A finalist, return a solid team led by Nikole Larm, Alycia Feeney and Shannon Sommer.
Pearl River: Under first-year coach Carisa Gaylardo, the Pirates return a very deep and veteran team led by pitcher Mandy McCarthy, catcher Deirdre O’Malley and shortstop Sam Alicandri.
Tappan Zee: The Dutchies made the Section 1 semifinals for the first time since 2007 and come into the season with high expectations. The team is headlined by all-section pitcher Paulina Gutkin and all-state shortstop Dee Sinanaj.
Ursuline: The Koalas look to continue their success in Class A after making it to the semifinals. They have a solid battery in pitcher Brittany Mitchell and catcher Essence Savignon.
Keep an eye on: Harrison, Eastchester, Hen Hud
Rye Neck: The Class B runner-up graduated seven seniors, including Class B co-state player of the year Jess Calvini. Sophomore Diana King becomes the No. 1 pitcher and she’ll have a solid catcher in Nickole Morgan.
Valhalla: Despite losing seven seniors, the Vikings seem poised and ready to defend their title. Led by ace Sydni Holtz and shortstop Brandi Coon, the Vikings will rely on their strong defense.
Keep an eye on: Dobbs Ferry, Kennedy
Haldane: The Blue Devils, two-time reigning Class C champions, return several top players from a squad that lost in the first round of regionals. They are led by catcher Sam Lisikatos and Allie Monteleone.
Keep an eye on: Solomon Schechter
Cassidy Boyle, Hen Hud: The junior second baseman has already given an oral commitment to play softball for the University of South Florida. Boyle batted .630 with 46 hits, including 12 home runs and eight doubles, and 37 RBI. She didn’t strike out all season.
Brandi Coon, Valhalla: The shortstop helped lead the Vikings to the state final four, posting a .475 average with 33 RBI. She has struck out just five times in the past two seasons.
Alycia Feeney, Brewster: The junior hurler led the Bears to the Section 1 finals for the first time since 2008, had a 1.99 ERA in 88 innings and finished 7-5.
Paulina Gutkin, Tappan Zee: The junior pitcher, a Class A fifth-team all-state selection, carried the Dutchies to their first sectional semifinal in five years. She finished with a 16-5 record with 151 strikeouts in 130 innings.
Sam Lisikatos, Haldane: The junior catcher of the two-time reigning Class C champions returns after posting a .460 average with three home runs and 20 RBI.
Laura Marinello, Nanuet: The junior is an outstanding center fielder who batted .438 with 11 doubles and four triples.
Mandy McCarthy, Pearl River: The junior pitcher, a Class A third-team all-state selection, was 13-2 with an 0.82 ERA. She batted .400 with 30 RBI and 10 doubles.
Brittany Mitchell, Ursuline: The senior posted a 9-2 record with a 1.34 ERA and struck out 80 in 68 innings. The senior batted .500 with six home runs, eight doubles, 32 runs scored and 22 RBI.
Ruby Silverstein, Clarkstown North: The senior catcher batted .430 with nine doubles and had an on-base percentage of .522.
Dee Sinanaj, Tappan Zee: The senior shortstop, a Class A fourth-team all-state selection, batted .441 with five home runs, seven doubles, three triples and 24 RBI.
Three questions about the season
Can Valhalla, Harrison, Rye Neck contend? All three teams have enough talent. Look for Valhalla’s Brandi Coon, Harrison’s Samantha Chiarella, and Rye Neck’s Diana King to have big seasons.
Which team is the dark horse in Class B? Dobbs Ferry, with Andrea Abbatiello and Bronwyn Bingham, could surprise some people.
Who are the top pitchers in Rockland? All-state selections Paulina Gutkin of Tappan Zee and Mandy McCarthy of Pearl River will be joined by Kate Wood of Suffern and McCarthy’s teammate, Caroline Kardashian.